Food Stamp Challenge: Day 1
Yesterday for lunch, I had half a can of tuna fish, carrot sticks and an apple. All together, it cost me about $1.40, which is not bad for my first day. It was 10 cents under my average meal allotment. Why, you ask, did I have such a small and inexpensive lunch?
- It is a creative and innovative way for me to better understand the cause for which I am working. Granted, I realize that by limiting my food budget for seven days, I am not fully experiencing a life of poverty; I can still pay my rent, pay my utilities bill, and pay for my health insurance and other basic expenses. But by experiencing this one aspect of poverty, I can have a more tangible sense of the problem, which will help inspire me to help alleviate said problem.
- It is an excellent education tool for those around me. Every time someone sees my simple lunch, I get to explain the Food Stamp Challenge; the problems of hunger, food insecurity and poverty; and the inadequacy of food stamps and other government programs in alleviating these problems. Every time I have to turn down an invitation to go out to lunch, eat Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house or take that cookie my co-worker baked, I get to explain each of these things all over again. Each person I interact with in this seven-day span will hear my story, which connects to the story of the 1 in 7 Americans who use food stamps daily.
- It is an easy and meaningful way for me to donate to anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. The last participant guideline in the Food Stamp Challenge (and this one guideline is optional) is: “Donate the additional money you would have spent on food during this week to a local food bank or anti-hunger advocacy organization.” When I read this line, I was incredibly moved. I thought it was such a wonderful way to “pay it forward.” As I said before, I know that by living on $31.50 in food and beverages for one week, I am not fully experiencing the challenges of someone on food stamps, nor am I fully solving the problems of hunger and poverty. But at the very least, by fulfilling this last participant guideline, I am doing something intentional with the money that I spend on food.
I’m only one day into the Food Stamp Challenge, and already it has been an eye-opening experience, from the time I spent agonizing over what to purchase in the grocery store to the small pangs of hunger I experienced yesterday when my lunch of tuna, carrots and apples was not sufficient. Please consider joining me in the Food Stamp Challenge, whether for one meal, one day or one week, so that we might all begin to understand what it means to be hungry in America.
Photo courtesy of Food Stamp Challenge website.